This is the second article in a 5 part series on gamifying spelling. Last week I outlined how to use Letter Ladders to get students jumping when spelling. This week I am going to focus on Spelling Bingo but hopefully not like you have ever seen it done before.
Let’s take a quick look first at why we teach spelling and why it is a beneficial skill for students to learn. I know that the students of today are growing up in a world of predictive voice to text dictation. Autocorrect is already common place but spelling still has an important place in the primary curriculum. By being able to spell words (encode) students are better able to read (decode) unknown words. They can also develop an understanding of language rules such as “tion” or “ought” words. By being better at spelling students will be better readers and better writers or at least these lexical activities will be easier for them and therefore they should engage in them more readily.
Actually, students engage readily in anything that is fun and easy such as Spelling Bingo.
This is just one of many variations of Spelling Bingo. It allows students to practise their weekly words but also work as a team, share, cooperate and have a chance to move a bit as they race to get words. Bingo can be changed each lesson to be a row, column or whole chart or a timer set for the game to make it a little more game based.
This activity is perfect for wet or cold weather as it can be completed in the classroom with students at desks or sitting in groups on the floor. To set up for this game students need to be grouped into spelling ability teams of about 4 or 5 and each student given a 4 x 4 grid as shown below. (If you repeat this every week you may want to laminate these and reuse them).
Students write a letter of their choice in each space at the top of the grid. They can use multiples of one letter if they wish and could be asked to use different colours for vowels and consonants to reinforce this additional literacy lesson.
You provide multiple copies of the week’s spelling words on slips of paper at the front of the room and a chart for each group of their words that they are practising that day. This need not be their entire list but could concentrate on trickier words with a couple of easier ones to make the game of Spelling Bingo more fun. As many or as few list words can be used each time this is played and not all groups need to have the same number of words.
The first student from each group races to the front of the room and selects a slip of paper with a word from their list. They return to their group and, without showing the slip of paper to the team, read the word to be spelt. Each student can write the word down if they wish before group members take it in turn to spell the given word 1 letter at a time per student around the group. The person holding the word checks their team members are spelling the word correctly and corrects mistakes if they occur. If the letter a person spells out is on their Spelling Bingo card they may place a counter on the letter or cross it out.
Once a word has been spelt the slip of paper is placed in the middle of the group and the next student in the group races to the front of the room, marks off the word they just spelt and retrieves another word from their group’s list. This repeats until either 1 student gets bingo or all the words have been spelt for the group.
This activity is designed to encourage students to spell the words correctly. If a mistake is made when writing the word or when spelling it aloud the word can be circled. After the game students can record incorrect words for further practise later in the day or that evening. Overall, Spelling Bingo is about providing students with a way to practise their spelling words that is fun, exciting and develops team work while hopefully creating better writers and readers too.
Please let me know if you have other variations on this Spelling Bingo game or, if you implement this version, how your students found it. Make sure to check back for next week’s article on using spelling to improve hand-eye coordination and get your students moving.